Floods of God’s Provision

Spoiler alert: the title of this blog is not what you think it is. It’s about an actual flood. Yes, real water. Ok back to the story…

After my language class yesterday, I took my 30 minute power nap. Let me tell ya, language learning sucks all the energy out of ya. In my pre-field training we were actually told that, on average, a language learner immersed in culture requires at least two extra hours of sleep per day (about 10 hours). I didn’t believe it then, but I sure do now! I had about 5 minutes left of my power nap but I awoke to the sound of gurgling from the bathroom sink. I’ve been staying in an airbnb for the first three weeks of my time in Croatia. During this time I’ve been looking for a long term apartment relentlessly. It’s been a grueling search that’s brought me to my knees (a lot)…more on that later.

I slowly made my way to the bathroom gurgle (it didn’t take long…the airbnb I’m in is a quaint little 25 square meters) and found what appeared to be a bit of flooding. It had been raining all day. Most, if not all, bathrooms in Croatia have a drain (much like the drain in your average shower) on the floor. Well, to my dismay, there was water coming up out of the drain…a bit of a clog or something. I texted Lucija (my airbnb host) to let her know what was happening. Although I didn’t want her to have to come over here in the rain, she insisted her and the handyman would be on their way soon.

Lucija and the handyman arrived and what I thought would be a quick fix ended up taking about an hour or so. Lucija and I chatted for quite awhile…we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well as they had to come by a week and a half ago to replace the water filter in the airbnb (I didn’t have hot water for about a week). She asked me how my apartment search had been going.

You see, finding an apartment in Split is a different ball game than any I’ve ever played. Most Croats own the apartment or home they live in and probably own others as well that they rent to tourists during the tourism season. Thus, it’s been a developing issue over the last few years that the majority of people rent out the apartments they own only to tourists…I mean, they make a bunch more money than if they were to rent long term. Thus, it’s a move of God to find a long term apartment here.

Rewind to last week….well actually, maybe rewind to when I arrived. Or even a few weeks before I even left. I remember telling my team leader on the phone, “I’m mentally prepared to live out of my suitcases and move from place to place for the next 6 months, but I don’t want to do that.” Honestly, I didn’t think it would happen (and I don’t know if it actually will). Anyway, upon arriving on February 21, I started searching for an apartment. My teammate Judita has been an angel and truly God’s provision throughout this process (calling realtors, setting up showings, doing all the talking, etc.). However, by day 3 I have to admit I was already getting anxious. The reality was setting in how difficult this whole “finding an apartment” thing would be. I was already counting down the days I had left in my temporary airbnb before I had to leave. The looming fear of having nowhere to go kept replaying in my head. It was almost as if I was having an identity crisis and forgot that I was and am deeply loved child of God. A loving Father doesn’t uproot His daughters life in her homeland to bring her to homelessness and in lack. But somehow, that reality seems to be lost when fear and lies from the enemy set in.

So last week as I started language school, the days were counting down until I had to have another place to live. One week away, six days, five days, four days, three days…ok. What am I going to do? Friday and Saturday I spent most of the day combing through Njuškalo (basically the Croatian version of Craigslist) re-searching for apartments. I had already looked at 85% of the listings but called the remaining ones I hadn’t. On Friday I called a realtor, we set up a time to meet on Saturday, and go view an apartment in Manuš. About a 15 minute walk away from my teammates, close to the city center, and great space. I really loved the apartment, really hit it off with the realtor and the owner. We talked about life in Chicago, what my family thinks of me moving here, and the importance of mentoring and discipling young people. It was awesome! I was already asking the Lord to move in my relationship with both of them and expecting Him to do big things. Saturday and Sunday I daydreamed about what the space could look like. The photos I would hang on the walls, the plants I would buy, the meals I would cook with friends in my kitchen.

I told the owner my budget and she said she would talk to her husband once she sees him again on Monday. She said she was excited for me to live there and we would talk soon. I only had a few days left in my airbnb so it was awesome seeing how God was opening doors at just the last minute. Monday came around and I expected to hear from the realtor. I sent her a message on WhatsApp while I was in language class, letting her know I’m looking forward to hearing from her and I hope she had a good weekend. She called me an hour later and asked a few questions for the owners (i.e. how do I get paid, what is my income like, how do I pay rent-all normal questions to ask as there is no credit score check, previous apartment check, etc.). A few hours passed and I hadn’t heard anything so I called the realtor and asked if she’d heard anything from the owners. She said she hadn’t heard but would get back to me as soon as she hears.

As the time went on, I began having a bad feeling about all of it. Then I woke up from my post language class nap to the gurgling. And the flooding. Fast forward back to talking with Lucija. As we were chatting about finding an apartment she casually mentioned, “Since you’ve had so many problems while you’ve been here at the airbnb, we decided you can stay here until Tuesday for free if you don’t find an apartment.” What…ok thanks God for that provision and ease of the tension. I thought I probably wouldn’t need that as I’d be moving into the new place in a couple days, but that’s great to know anyway! I was relieved and grateful to see that God was still providing and showing His hand even in the unknown.

Tuesday afternoon rolled around and it was time for my post language class nap. No call from the realtor yet. Today I didn’t wake up to the sound of gurgling in the bathroom drain but to a phone call from the realtor. As I looked at my phone ringing, the feeling of fear and looming dread set in. “I don’t feel good about this, Lord. Soften the blow. Sustain me with your grace and peace.” I picked up my phone. “Alison I am so sorry to tell you the owner said that her husband only wants a Croatian couple to live in the apartment. I’m really surprised and I think she is upset too as she really liked you. Maybe it’s because you are a foreigner.

Ouch. “Would it help if I show her my visa paperwork? A proof of my employment?” No. It wasn’t going to happen. The sting of it all…being a foreigner, being a single missionary, etc. That hurt. “Ok Lord…I trust you. You are faithful. I trust you even in this.” She apologized profusely, asking me if I had somewhere to go, and assured me she would continue looking for an apartment for me. I hung up the phone. The lump in my throat grew as I cried out to the Lord. The cyclical feeling of getting so close to finding a new home to settle and finally unpack my bags was again snatched from me. As the tears rolled down my face and I lay in bed, I was reminded of just 24 hours prior. Before I even knew I needed it, God provided. I could stay here. “I will never leave you or forsake you. I am with you wherever you go. Trust me. I didn’t say it would be easy but I promised I would be with you. I am with you. Keep walking. Keep trusting, beloved child.”

A couple hours later I texted Lucija. “Hey, I didn’t get that apartment. Is there anyway I can extend my time here past Tuesday?” “Yes! The airbnb is available until April 1. We can give you a very discounted rate and you can stay here until then. Let me know.” I took a look at my calendar and saw that I’m set to leave for a ministry trip on April 1. Perfect timing…check. I’ll return mid-April and watch a teammates dog for a few days while they’re out of town. After that, they leave for home assignment late May and have already extended the invitation for me to live in their house until they return to Croatia mid-August. There’s many details I’m thinking and praying through but I’ll save that for later.

I’m not sure where I’ll live yet or where I’ll stay in the next few weeks…if I’ll stay where I am now or what God will do. All this to say…sometimes God uses broken water heaters, floods in the bathroom, and gurgling drains to wake us up and show us that He is always working and providing for His children. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I do know that it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. I don’t question if God will provide, I just don’t know when.

Even when I don’t see it, You’re working

Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working

You never stop working

Way Maker, Miracle Worker

Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness

That is who You are

Uprooting to be Rooted

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I’m not necessarily one for resolutions (let’s be honest, I never accomplish them!) but I know I can personally benefit from the newness and renewed expectation that comes with a new year. For the last few months I’ve been thinking about what I want this year to be about. One word that repeatedly came up was “rooted”. There’s a lot of things I want to see happen this year, things I want to accomplish, grow in, etc. All of it can be traced back to this very concept of being rooted. Whether my goal is to grow in my prayer life or pay better attention to my health, my hope is to be rooted, unwavering, committed.

I was sharing this “word of the year” with a dear friend and ministry partner over coffee last week and she said, “Alison, that’s kind of a paradox because everything else in your life is about to be completely uprooted!” She was right! As much as I want this year to be marked by rootedness, the paradox is that everything in my life is about to be uprooted and changed. From my community to my language, I’m about to enter into a season of uprootedness.

I’ve always loved the quote “Grow where you’re planted.” For the past several months I’ve been in the process of uprooting to replant. The concept of no longer grocery shopping at aldi but now at Lidl (Europe’s version of Aldi) and at outdoor markets is becoming familiar. The excitement (and daunting task!) of learning a new language and fumbling to communicate will become a daily occurence. There’s a lot that comes with uprooting to be rooted again.

But in the midst of it all, my confidence and hope lies in the fact that God is faithful and steadfast. This year, may our roots grow deep Christ, standing firm in our faith and trusting Him!

Living in Limbo

You may remember playing this wonderful game “limbo” at birthday parties and block parties growing up. The words “how low can you go?” would echo around you as someone held the limbo pole, determining how low or high you would need to go. The lower the pole got, pressure increased, your trust was tested, and great flexibility was required.

There’s a lot of seasons in life that we would say, “I’m living in limbo.” The transition from college to the “real world”, being between jobs, being engaged and waiting to be married, and moving from one location to another. Oftentimes when we’re living in limbo the conditions are uncertain, the amount of time is unknown, and the destination may even be questionable.

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Throughout this last season of living in limbo I’ve discovered that God has some pruning to do, some growth to produce, and some nuggets of wisdom to give. Oftentimes my conditions have been unknown. There have been periods of time where I didn’t know how God would provide simple things like a place to live or a car to drive! The amount of time in living in limbo has been unknown. When we say “yes” to what God asks of us, He often doesn’t give us a run-down of the conditions, the length of time, and all the details. But what He does give and promise us is His Spirit and providence. As I’ve walked this season of living in limbo, I’ve seen just how much the Lord has to teach us in the process, in the waiting, in the unknown.

  1. I may not know what lies ahead, but I know the One who does. I give a big sigh of relief at the realization that Jesus knows exactly what lies ahead. If we are in Christ, we can loosen our grip and remember that Jesus is in control of what lies ahead. As 1 Thessalonians 5 says, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” As children of God we can actively decide to say, “I don’t know what lies ahead, what the conditions are, how long this will be, but Jesus I trust you.
  2. I know the One who holds it all is trustworthy. The relief of living in limbo is that we know the one who’s holding the limbo pole, so to speak. However, throughout this journey of living in limbo, we’ll come to discover the daily rhythm of Jesus asking, “Do you trust Me?” It’s not about trusting the process, the circumstances, or even the supposed destination. But do you trust Him? Do you trust that He has plans for a future and a hope? Do you trust that He is working all things together for your good? While living in limbo, sometimes through tears, sometimes with unspeakable joy, sometimes with open hands and other times with clenched fists, we repeat back, “I do trust you, Lord.”
  3. I know the One who holds it all will sustain. While you’re living in the land of the in between, you’re going to have lots of “God sightings.” Don’t miss these! Somehow, living in limbo produces a spiritual amnesia of sorts. We forget the faithfulness and goodness of our God. But these reminders and this grace from the Lord are just a small part of what will sustain us. As Romans 5 says, we can rejoice in this journey as it produces endurance, character and hope!
  4. I know the One who holds it all has good plans. If we truly believe that our God is good and has our best interest in mind, then we have nothing to fear. As Proverbs reminds us multiple times, we are to trust in our God and not in our own understanding, for His ways are not our ways. As we continually say “I trust you, Lord” and submit to His plans, His timing, His will, we can rest in His goodness.

I’ve been living in limbo for a little while now. I’ve transitioned out of my job and I’m ready to move to Croatia and begin work there. It’s been one of the most faith-shaping times of my life to live in limbo and wait for God to provide and trust that His timing is perfect. The conditions of this waiting have been uncertain and the amount of time is unknown. So often people ask me, “So when are you leaving?” The easy response is whenever 100% of my support comes in. Truth be told, it could be one month from now or three months from now. All I know is that I will leave in God’s timing as He continues to provide. I am praying and trusting that I’ll be leaving earlier rather than later.

Corrie ten Boom once said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” As I continue to live in limbo, Jesus continues to ask me, “Do you trust me? Do you trust that I will sustain you? Do you trust that my timing is perfect?” And I do.

I trust Jesus because I know He is trustworthy, He is faithful, and He will sustain me. So whether you are waiting to hear back from a doctor about an unknown health issue, figuring out post-college plans, waiting to hear back about a job opportunity, or waiting desperately for God to provide a child, will you trust Him? 

 

Living Fully Convinced

Lately, I’ve been asking God to give me more faith; more faith to walk in what He’s called me to, more faith to say “yes” to Him, more faith to believe that He is willing and able to do immeasurably more than all I could think or imagine. In this search of asking for more faith, I’ve come across the life of Abraham: a life fully convinced.

God made some pretty crazy promises to Abraham during his lifetime and asked him to do some crazy faith things. From believing his 90-year-old wife would bear a son and then being asked to sacrifice that son, this man had walked a journey. But as I was digging deeper into this crazy life I came across some bold words:

he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. [Romans 4:20-21]

As Abraham’s circumstances grew less promising, he grew strong in his faith. Sarah wasn’t getting any younger, yet he still believed God and his faith grew strong as he continually gave glory to God. And not only was Abraham continually giving glory to God but he was fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Regardless of his less-than-promising circumstances, Abraham’s faith rested on the word of the Lord and His promise to him.

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God’s power and promises transcend our circumstances, our abilities or lack thereof, and our plans. So often, I assume that things will go in a cookie cutter manner and in my timing and I’m finally starting to see that God’s plans are not dependent upon my planning or power (thank God!). There’s been countless seasons where I’ve made my plans, set my goals, cast a vision and nine times out of ten, God’s plans are different! His ways are higher than mine and I am oh, so thankful for that. Because that takes all the pressure off of me.

I want to live a life that’s fully convinced of the goodness of God, His perfect timing and His faithfulness. I want to live a life of delighting in the blessed assurance that God is who He says He is. Because when we truly grab ahold of these things, when we truly believe, when we truly abide, we can walk these seasons and this life with freedom; growing strong in our faith, giving glory to God and living fully convinced.

Counting the Cost

If your house was on fire what is the first thing you would bring with you? If you could only take five things to a deserted island, what would you bring? Today I stood in my dining room with a lot of stuff around me. Coffee mugs from around the world, knick-knacks, picture frames, shower curtains, bedding, candles, photographs. And as I stood there with this heavy weight on my chest I realized this is the cost.

Over the last month and a half, I’ve deeply felt the Lord stripping me of every single thing that I can potentially find security in or do find security in. Whether it’s somewhere to live, a coffee mug from a place I love (I collect coffee mugs, it’s kind of a problem), or not having a car…all of it is being taken from me.

But over the last few weeks I’m realizing…I’m not being robbed. I’m not being punished. I’m not some poor missionary who’s losing everything. Rather…I’m gaining everything. You see, all these little things my soul has sneakily found meaning, security, purpose and identity in. I’ve trusted in these silly things that have given me place and honor. All of these things that say “I don’t need Jesus here. I have these things to take care of me.” So, Jesus has been stripping me of things and in return, He has given me the very best to fill those faith gaps. He has given me Himself! 

As I walk this road ahead, I’m reminded of Jesus’ calling of the twelve disciples.

…and [Jesus] sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.’

Luke 9:1-3

Jesus calls these men to forsake everything, quit what they’re doing, leave it all behind and follow Him. What a radical call! Even as they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee later on, He told them He would make them fishers of men. And these men immediately left their nets and followed Jesus. These men didn’t even take the time to count the cost! They just followed Him. Oh, that I would have faith that would act immediately, confidently and boldly.

Over the last 2.5 years the Lord has consistently called me to equip young leaders in Croatia to fulfill Christ’s commission through the local church. In this movement of God, lives are being changed, churches are being revived, and societies are being transformed. So as I sit in my dining room looking at all this stuff…I don’t even have to take a minute to think, “Is it worth it?” Just like the disciples left their cast nets, like they left their treasures, like they left everything they knew for the sake of the gospel and to be fishers of men…I am coming to find that Jesus is worth everything. I am counting the cost and following Him. There is nothing on this earth that can bring identity, purpose, security, belonging, anything at all other than Jesus.

So, I’ll gladly get rid of my coffee mugs, my plants, my picture frames, my mason jars, my furniture, all of it…because Jesus is better, He’s worth it, and I am ready to go and make disciples.

Irresistible Invitation

It was the summer of 2016 and I had just arrived in Split, Croatia after long days of travel. I had been preparing for this summer for the last six months but had no idea what God had for me. I’d known for several years that God was inviting me into cross-cultural missions so this opportunity seemed like a practical and wise experience for me as I stepped into the future. What seemed like a practical and wise move was quickly turning into much more. Day after day, it felt as if my heart was bursting. I penned in my journal, “I came into this season with hands wide open and a heart ready. It may be the very beginning but I can truly see myself doing this for the rest of my life.”

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I found myself struck by the great grace of God with tears in my eyes as He continued to speak to my heart in the coming weeks. All at once, it was as if everything was coming full circle; these things that God had begun in me years and years ago were being brought to fruition. It was as if God was placing me in the exact place He wanted to use me. He was calling me to what He had equipped me for. Could God really be opening the door for something as big as this? I tucked that prayer away for a later time, focusing on what God had brought me to do in Croatia, serving Him one day at a time.

Now, before I get too far into this particular story, I want to clue you in on a little bit of my background. Through the faithful friendship of a childhood friend and pursuit of Christ, Jesus radically changed my life when I was 16. Throughout all these years, there were many misconceptions that were broken down. Not unlike many others, I had this perception that missionaries were special. Afterall, they’d known their whole life that God had called them to *this* place and *these* people (don’t get me wrong…I don’t doubt that is the experience of some) and so I’d shut out the idea that God would ever want me to share the gospel overseas. I’d thought missions required an experience or a-ha moment. This misconception would slowly but surely be corrected over the years as I traveled to many places, met many people, and deeply fell in love with the world and saw the deep need for revival. Plain and simple: through God’s Word, His Spirit, prayer, and various experiences I clearly saw God’s command to go and make disciples. I found no greater joy than in this posture of humble submission to the great commission. Did I know exactly what that looked like back in 2015? No, but God would faithfully lead me. Now let’s get back to that part...

This tugging at my heart wouldn’t leave quickly. Was God opening a door here in Croatia? Over many years, my heart was breaking for places where the gospel was not being heard, for places where the gospel is misunderstood. When I learned that out of 4.5 million people in Croatia, less than 0.5% know Jesus, I quickly thought, “we have to do something!” As I wrestled with God, anxious and trying to navigate His plan like a jigsaw puzzle, He stopped me in my tracks. “Following Me means dying to you. Your life is me. You must die to truly live.” What? The God who died for me tells me that I must die to myself, my plan, my path, my way in order to truly live? That is precisely what Jesus was calling me (and is calling me!) to do.

front-1-4Here’s the problem. What Jesus was calling me to was very contrary to what I wanted. I’ve always been one with a set plan, a purpose, and a precise path. I like to have it all figured out, don’t we all!? Dying to myself meant dying to walking by sight, dying to the approval of others, dying to my plan, dying to control (and oh how I love control!). Dying to my desire for a clear and direct call. And coming alive to obedience and faith.

So when those chilling words reminded me that following Jesus means dying to myself, I quickly tightened my grip on the life of my plan and control. As a young woman, there’s been plenty of paths that have caught my attention. Some lasted longer than others. When I was 16, I planned out the perfect future: I would go to college, meet the perfect guy, get married by 22, have kids, buy a house, be comfortable, and be a faithful disciple of Christ. Sounds great right? The thing is, there isn’t necessarily anything inherently wrong with that plan, it’s just not what the Good Shepherd had planned for me. So as I’ve tried to tighten my grip on my plan and control, the sweet and patient grace of Christ has slowly loosened my grip. shortterm-60

So everyday for three months while in Croatia I kept hearing the gracious voice of God, “Will you serve me here? Will you die to yourself? Will you trust me?” And for several days it felt like trusting Him meant falling into the great unknown and it was scary. But then, this unexplainable freedom was realized and this weight was lifted. Because my new life is in Christ, I have died to myself. I’m called to obedience and faith in following Him. Following Him to unknown places with unknown people. Following Him to build up the next generation of believers. Following Him to walk with disciples as they make disciples. Following Him to share the story of what He is doing throughout the earth.

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So when I came home, this question kept circling through my mind, “Could God possibly be inviting me into what He is doing in Croatia?” The Lord was ever so patient with me as He ever so clearly and consistently invited me. “I am moving; changing society, transforming lives, and rebuilding my local church here. Will you join me?” This was an irresistible invitation I couldn’t pass up. This was an invitation to die to self. Again. But this time, it was as if I had finally realized that if Jesus wholeheartedly said yes to an invitation from the Father to give His whole life in obedience for the sake of the world, how could I not say yes to this invitation? How could I not say yes to my ever-faithful Father who has (quite literally) saved my life and give my life to making Him known?

So what’s the invitation that I’m saying “Yes, I’m going!” to? The invitation is this: the sovereign God of the universe is building His kingdom through the saving and sending of His people. The call of God is to go. I go because the glory of God is at stake. I go because the story I am caught up in is not my story; I’m caught up in God’s story. I go not because it’s radical but because it’s necessary. I go to join a team of incredible Kingdom builders who are seeing God move on a daily basis. I go to fulfill Christ’s commission in Croatia, by equipping young people and making disciples.  

I’ve responded to the invitation. I’ve given my RSVP. I’ve given a bold yes in obedience and faith. I will need to continue to give a resounding yes as I walk this road and link arms with others who also give a bold yes. I choose to say yes, knowing that He has far greater things for me than I could ever imagine or plan on my own. I choose to follow Him even when things get hard or when they are seemingly perfect. I choose to say yes because there is no other option, no greater call, and no higher honor than making Him known.camp-45

 

In his book Great Commission Obedience author Jerry Rankin says, “Jesus did not introduce the concept of the Great Commission upon completion of His time upon earth but ratified this as the eternal will and purpose of the Father.” There’s no clearer invitation than this. Jesus tells us to come, go, follow. Without reservation. Without our own plans. Without our own confidence. Without our old selves. But, with Jesus. With our coming King who invites us, so irresistibly so, to go and make disciples.

So what does this look like for you? Obedience and faith, dying to self, saying yes, responding to the irresistible invitation. What does it look like to be a faithful disciple? Maybe it’s digging into the city you live in, being bold in your faith with your coworkers, or making disciples in your local school. Jesus calls us to die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. What does that mean for you? Whatever that looks like for each and every person, what I know is this: God has given us a clear call and it’s this.

Go make disciples. 

Thank you for reading and following along. Please leave me a comment or send me a message! I’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to hear more about what God is doing in Croatia or you’d like to partner with me, please click here

 

25

On my 24th birthday last year, I remember feeling this pressure. Every year on your birthday, you feel this pressure to be satisfied with the year before, proud of what you’ve accomplished, and happy about the areas you’ve grown in. Last year, I remember sitting in a french bakery with a good friend of mine in tears as I felt that pressure and didn’t feel satisfied. There was something in me that just wasn’t proud of what I accomplished in the last year, done with my life, succeeded in. Maybe it was the fact that I was 24 and just about to finish my undergrad, or that I wasn’t sure where I would be living or what I’d be doing in the next 6 months…it was a crazy season that felt a lot bigger and full of pressure than necessary. Sure, it had been a good year and God had done a lot but as I got to that day, I just didn’t feel this overwhelming sense of satisfaction and contentment.

I’m happy to say that as I approached my 25th birthday, I was dumbfounded at the sheer contrast between this year and last. Whether it’s a shift of perspective, a change of heart, or the simple (yet so complex) goodness of God, I came to this day content, satisfied, filled over and above and grateful. Grateful to look back on a year of so much. From events like saying “yes” to Jesus’ invitation to serve Him in Croatia with my life or finishing undergrad at Moody or moving into a 100-year-old dreamy apartment in Buena Park with 5 friends; this year has been full of so much goodness. Of course some hard things, like relationships that cause me to draw near to Jesus (hard at the time but SO good in the end), selling my car and becoming a full on Chicagoan biker/commuter, and really digging deep into what it means to be here now and also prepare. I’m leaving 24 with a lot less baggage, a whole lot of healing, and a bigger heart. I have a hunger to do more and be more not just to say I’ve done it or learned it or become it but to know Jesus more, to serve Him wholly, to glorify Him deeply.

As I make this next trip around the sun my prayer is that this verse (Gal. 2:20) would ring true and these lovely words from Paul Tripp’s New Morning Mercies: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

“I don’t think that we let our hearts consider the wonder of this identity enough. By grace, we are the temple of the Most High God. By grace, he lives in us. By grace, his power is at our disposal. By grace, he fights on our behalf, even if we don’t have the sense to do so. By grace, he works within us to complete the labor of grace that he has begun. By grace he animates us to desire to do what is right. By grace, he exposes and convicts us.  We are able to choose to do what is right only because he lives in us and gives us the power to do so by his grace. He hasn’t just forgiven us, he’s taken up residence in us, and in that there is real hope.”

Year 25 intentions:

  1. Memorize Scripture. Ever since finishing Bible school, I can’t say I spend a ton of time memorizing verses. I don’t have to worry about weekly memorization tests. But what a valuable thing.
  2. Well-rounded health. Sleep. Diet. Exercise. Mind.
  3. Dedication and Diligence. I know this year ahead will require more dedication and diligence than ever before as I step into a season of asking God to mobilize me to get to Croatia. Dedication to Him, His Word, time management, people, church, etc. and diligence to do everything will God-honoring excellence.
  4. Expectancy and Anticipation. In a season where the next thing to look forward to is “when am I moving to Croatia” it’s easy to not live everyday with expectancy and anticipation for the here and now. There is SO much that God wants to do in the everyday that when we live with a one-track-mind, we miss out on so much. I don’t want to miss anything that the Lord has for me.
  5. Whole 30…I’ve seriously been saying I’m going to do it for 3-4 years. Just gotta do it. Even though I already mostly eat paleo, I gotta do whole 30.
  6. Read 1 book each month (at least)

Here’s to a year of more grey hairs, wrinkles around smiley eyes, and drawing near to the Father’s heart 😉

Freedom in Thankfulness

In May, after finishing school and moving to the north side, I sold my car. For many reasons. I knew I could do a year of CTA, it was better for me financially, I would be getting rid of my car in a year’s time anyway with Croatia and JV in the near future, and parking in Chicago sucks. When I sold my car though, I also said goodbye to a lot of convenience, simplicity and freedom. Not only did it make my commuting time longer (which honestly, most of the time I enjoy. It makes me slow down) but it also makes it a bit difficult to visit my parents in northern Wisconsin.

I hadn’t visited my parents magical, peaceful, and other-worldly cabin home since March (when, believe it or not, there was still a ton of snow on the ground). They moved up here three years ago and it is totally other-worldly compared to the hustle and bustle of my Chicago life. There’s actually grass and trees and a real lake and it’s the most peaceful place. A few weeks ago my mom had a wedding to attend in Springfield and on her way back up north she picked me up and I got to spend a few days at my parent’s home.

Growing up has not only cause me to ask questions like “Who am I and what do I want to be about?” “What is home?” etc. but it has made me appreciate my family and parents so much more. I’ve truly found so much freedom and beauty in letting go, choosing to love and serve, and just being present. Reality is, I know I won’t have many more visits up to the cabin and holidays with my family won’t be the norm in a year or so when I make the move to Croatia. There’s a lot of bittersweet in life lately but it’s so very good. So, being home and doing normal things with my parents like four mile walks, meeting their neighbors, going grocery shopping, having dad teach me how to drive stick in his new red jeep, watching a movie and laughing hard with dad, laughing at dad falling asleep on the couch, getting a Christmas tree at J.J. Acres and stopping inside for some hot chocolate, drinking wine with mom, and waking up to just one cup of coffee left in the coffee pot.

It’s just been like finding freedom in thankfulness. There’s freedom in thankfulness. Freedom in letting go of unfair expectations and rules. Freedom in enjoying, serving and loving. SO much thankfulness in unconventional thanksgiving (due to working on thanksgiving but driving up anyway and having a feast on Saturday.) Being present over perfect lets us live in thankfulness and not constant disappointment.

Broadway & Wilson

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Yesterday was an ordinary Friday evening. I worked until 10:30pm and got home around 11pm. I was at the express line when a customer and I got to talking. After purchasing his broccoli cheddar soup and water, he mentioned, “it’s a shame what happened last night on Broadway and Wilson.” He went on to explain there had been a shooting inside the Starbucks on the corner. A drug deal had gone bad and a 28-year-old man was killed and two others were wounded, including a 12-year-old boy.

I stood there in wonder. I pass by that Starbucks everyday on my commute to work. I had sat in there with friends a few months prior. It’s about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. “Chicago shooting” newspaper headlines and nightly broadcasts are in my neighborhood. It sounds a little bit different when you’re walking to a friends place and hear gunshots and keep walking because it’s no big deal. This is just life.

I stood there almost frozen after the man told me about this Thursday night incident in my own neighborhood.

I passed by that Starbucks today on my way to and from work. And at Broadway & Wilson, as they rain poured down, dozens of people were sitting staring out the window drinking their pumpkin spice lattes and americanos in their new Christmas 2017 cups. Had they known what happened 12 hours ago just feet away from them? Maybe so. But life seems to keep moving.

European Friends in Whole Foods

 

Immanuel. God with us. In every moment, in every season. This truth can be a bit of a climax that speaks into the mountain peaks of life but in the now, I’m learning it’s an everyday kind of glory. Everyday kind of glory from the bus window, the bike lane, and the checkout lane at Whole Foods.

As I walk through this “in between” kind of season, so many people have told me “write yourself notes, journal always, and remember the little things.” Remember all the little things God showed you and is showing you so you don’t forget. So you don’t forget all that He did. So you don’t forget when things get hard. So you don’t forget when you’re thinking, “Did God really say…?”

So I’ve filled pages and I’ve made lots of little notes on my phone and I’ve laughed a lot at the intimacy and closeness of Jesus. He delights in everyday miracles.

  • Seeing Croatian flags everywhere…like in the most bizarre of places. And Croatian restaurants and the list goes on and on…
  • Meeting sooo many Europeans at work. And gushing about Europe. And sharing with them why I’m moving and getting to share Jesus.
  • Meeting an elderly woman who pretty much only spoke Serbian and having my ears perk because I understood most of what she was saying. Croatian and Serbian are both Slavic languages. Aaaaaand pretty much tearing up on my lunch break because I just couldn’t believe I caught on to some Croatian words and I couldn’t believe that I met a Serbian woman on the north side of Chicago.
  • One morning I was thinking earlier in the day how I miss LIDL (basically the Aldi of Europe) and how I’ll look forward to shopping there. That very day, a woman came through my line from Bulgaria with a LIDL bag. I exclaimed, “I love LIDL! Where is that from?” She says, “Oh I’m from Bulgaria and I have no idea how I still have this bag.” Then we chatted all about Europe. Again…laughter and tears at the nearness of Jesus. Like, what woman has a LIDL bag all the way from Bulgaria in Chicago?

These are just a sliver of the things that meet me in my everyday. There has been confirmation after confirmation from the Lord. I am so. extremely. thrilled. that He is inviting me into seeing Him move in Croatia as young disciples go make disciples! I can’t believe I get to say “YES!” to this very thing that Jesus is inviting me into.